5 Pain Causing Muscles You Didn’t Even Know You Had – by Dr Scott Walton, DC

human body

5 Pain Causing Muscles You Didn’t Even Know You Had – by Dr Scott Walton, DC

The human body has 650 muscles attaching to 206 bones. With all those muscles it’s expected to get some muscle pain from time to time. Maybe we overdid it at the gym or stretched that bit too far; These are times when we expect muscle pain. But have you ever had some unknown body pain? We often will say it’s just tight muscles, it’s muscular, or I pulled a muscle even when we have no idea what we are actually feeling. As a chiropractor, I study the relationship between muscle and bone thoroughly.
Below is a list of 5 muscles, that you probably didn’t even know you had, that commonly cause us pain and discomfort.  


This little muscle is found near your glutes/buttocks. The piriformis muscle is prone to overuse because we usually have weakness in our gluteus and hamstring muscles. Overuse causes pain and inflammation of the piriformis muscle, which can impinge on the sciatic nerve. When this occurs, it’s known as piriformis syndrome and will cause sciatica type pain that radiates down the posterior leg, sometimes to the toes.  

Opponens Pollicis

The opponens pollicis muscle is a small triangular shaped muscle at the base of the thumb in each hand. This muscle is one of the most important in evolution because it allows us to oppose our thumb to our 5th finger. As a chiropractor in the modern era I like to call this “our texting muscle”, all that thumb tapping has to workout something! The opponens pollicis muscle can cause pain shooting along the thumb, and slightly downward where the thumb meets the hand and further on to the wrist. Push your finger or thumb into the opposite hand at the base of the thumb, I’m sure a tight muscle will stand out to you, this is the opponens pollicis. Does it hurt? 


Small unknown muscle found in the back of your elbow. The anconeus muscle works together with your tricep to straighten your elbow joint. While you have likely never heard of it and it’s hard to find, swelling and inflammation of this muscle can put unnecessary pressure onto the ulnar nerve. The ulnar nerve travels further down the arm into the hand and fingers, impingement of the ulnar nerve will cause shooting pains along the path of the nerve, into the pinky and ring finger.


Some of you may have heard of the psoas muscle, it’s that famously tight and painful hip flexor muscle. The iliacus is a sister muscle to the psoas and lines the inside of the hip bone. This large muscle eventually merges with the psoas to form the iliopsoas muscle. This hip flexor muscles are usually very tender to massage and stretching. Problems with the Iliacus muscle can cause various types of low back pain, pelvic unleveling, and sometimes sciatic type symptoms.


The gracilis muscle is located along the medial aspect (inside) of the thing and travels along the thigh into the inner knee. This muscle helps with pulling your leg inward or across the body. It’s part of the formally known adductor muscles. This muscle can commonly be torn along with other adductor muscles, especially with rapid movements where the legs are spread apart, imagine doing the splits? A torn gracilis and other adductor muscles can have the patient layed up for weeks, intense pain, and difficult recovery.
Next time you have a pain, be sure to have a health professional examine you. With over 650 muscles throughout the body, 206 bones, and countless connective tissues, ligaments, and tendons, it is unlikely that you will be able to self-diagnose the issue. While it may be a pulled muscle, there are countless issues that could come from something that simple.
To book an appointment with Dr Scott please call 3482 2637 or click here to book an appointment online.
By: Dr. Scott Walton (BSc. DC) Chiropractor, Wellspring Chiropractic at North Lakes, Brisbane.